Sunday, 30 October 2011
Valuing the Girl Child by Girl Child Network Worldwide blogger Dorothy Johnson-Laird
Valuing the Girl Child
Contributor Dorothy Johnson-Laird
Each of us knows a little girl in our lives. She is the one with face turned down, with tear filled eyes, who looks dejected and alone. She might be a friend, a relative, a neighbor or a community member. She may not be able to look us in the eye. She may shrug her shoulders or remain mute when we ask her questions. Sometimes we might not know what to say to this little girl or even how to speak to her. Yet we can sense it, we can intuit that something is not right.
The question is, do we continue to walk by this little girl, do we act as if nothing is wrong or do we try to help her in some way? Perhaps it would be easier for us to walk away, to get on with our lives, to deny that there is a problem. Yet by doing nothing, we are denying this little girl her humanity, her joy. We are also denying our humanity, by not responding, by not listening or being a friend to her.
We may not know exactly what is wrong with this child. We may not understand what is disturbing or upsetting her. Yet in her being is a life. Her life has every right to be valued, to be encouraged, to be nurtured just as our own.
Every second that you read these words, another young girl is raped, hurt, emotionally or verbally abused. Yet just because these crimes happen does not mean that a child should be forgotten, ignored, stigmatized or denied her right to humanity. It is in the split second between her well-being and when a man violates her, that we need to be sure to find her, not to deny her voice. We know that this moment is pivotal in the child's life. How she is assisted after violence can mean the difference between life and death, between developing good self-esteem and poor self-esteem, between being able to be joyous and being Depressed, between being healthy and becoming sick. Ofcourse it may not be possible to completely forget the terror of such incidents, yet do we let her die internally or do we lift her off the ground, out of the mud, away from her hurt?
It is in this moment after violence, where a girl has been devastated that she needs to know most her worth as a human being. It is in this moment where she may feel most alone, most despondent, and where you as her friend, neighbor, mother, father may not know what to do or how to respond.
It is at this time where Girl Child Network Worldwide's life valuing and affirming role comes into play. You do not need to feel isolated as a young mother talking to a hurt child. There are a myriad ways in which GCN can offer assistance or advice. Reach out to GCN and you will be sure that someone will reach back to you.
If you come to GCN, someone whether it be a staff member or a volunteer will be ready and able to listen to your need, to your fear, to your anxiety. You can suggest to that little girl you know to join one of our Girls Empowerment Clubs. You can come to Betty Makoni 's radio show and talk or encourage others to come to speak from their heart. You can decide to become a Women Role Model (WRAP program) and encourage others to take an active part in GCN.
If you know a young girl who is suffering, by becoming involved with GCN, as a volunteer or a friend, you can learn that this young girl can be lifted up, raised far above your shoulders, that she can shine. Betty Makoni has shown through her tireless work and courage that a raped girl is not a lifeless human being, but someone who can find strength in numbers, when given the right care, when her voice and sense of well-being is truly listened to and encouraged. This little girl can then value herself and by extension other people. However, your child does not need to be hurt to come, to join a girls club, it maybe just that you want to promote her sense of worth, just that you want to ensure that she makes the right decisions on her path in life.
Next time you see that little girl on the street, we hope you will stop and talk to her. Next time you see that young neighbor crying in the stairwell, we trust you will reach out a hand and offer it to her. Next time you notice a girl bruised in odd places in her body, we believe you can and will take action, you will speak to her or encourage her to speak. In that moment you can make the right choice, by lifting that girl up off the floor. You will enable that little girl to find joy.